What to Expect After Your Root Canal Treatment

Posted on: 27 July 2016


If you have just undergone or are about to undergo root canal treatment, you may be wondering what lies ahead in terms of your recovery. Although 67 percent of Americans say they fear root canal treatment, with 15% going as far as to avoid dental care altogether, the procedure itself is less painful than the alternative. With the right post-treatment care, your recovery should take from a few days to a few weeks.

How you choose to care for your tooth will usually determine the length of time it takes for you to be able to comfortably use it. 

Pain, Swelling and Sensitivity 

For the first few days you may experience pain, sensitivity and in some cases, swelling. This is perfectly normal. According to dental research, 40% of patients experience some discomfort after endodontic treatment. In general, most patients begin to experience discomfort several hours after root canal treatment and this could last from a few hours to several days with the pain gradually decreasing as time goes by. 

A study conducted in 2006 followed a group of 112 post endodontic treatment patients and found that 80% reported no pain after two days, with 8% citing slight pain and 12% of patients reporting moderate to severe levels of pain.  Any discomfort you experience, including pain, sensitivity or swelling, is normal and usually caused by inflammation of the tissues surrounding your tooth's root. However, if the pain is severe and continues for more than a few days, you should contact your dentist or endodontist to check for the cause. 

How to Care for Your Pre-Root Canal Tooth

Until your tooth is fully restored, that is until it is covered with a crown, try to chew foods on the other side of your mouth and especially avoid crunchy foods such as raw carrots or crisps as your tooth is still fragile and vulnerable to being damaged. 

You should also: 

  • Smoke as little as possible as this slows down the healing process.
  • Floss and brush your teeth as normal. 
  • Rinse with warm saltwater for the first two days to keep bacteria at bay.
  • Keep in touch with your dentist to discuss matters such as pain and medication

Warning Signs to Look out For

Be vigilant and contact your dentist or endodontist if you experience: 

  • A small abscess-like swelling in or outside your mouth
  • An uneven bite
  • Pre-treatment symptoms

Once your tooth has been fully restored, it should last as long as your natural teeth providing you practice the necessary oral hygiene such as flossing and brushing, and continue to see your dentist for cleanings and checkups.